Toronto is filled with amazing restaurants and spaces that fit many an event bill. However, when it comes to choosing the perfect venue, it’s all about knowing your guest list.
Millennials, especially – the generation born early ’80s to early 2000s – can be an elusive crowd to please. Do your research to make the right connection between what’s important to this very influential, social-media savvy consumer group with what a venue can deliver.
Here are a few event space suggestions that push all the right RSVP buttons for millennials:
The Space: The One Eighty, formerly Panorama Lounge, atop the Manulife Centre at Bay and Bloor.
Millennial-worthy Because: This Food Network-raised generation has demanding palates and extroverted social calendars that actively seek out good eats and drinks in scene-making, social media-share worthy settings.
The Delivery: Awash in elegant white, black and grey décor and furnishings, the stylish dining lounge in the clouds is part of Eatertainment Special Events & Catering. A striking bar is a showstopper with built-in DJ station. Bar-cart trollies rove tableside offering tempting small plate creations, perfect noshing complements to luscious, signature cocktails or taste teasers to menu mains. North- and south-facing windows and glass-balcony patios deliver unobstructed bird’s eye views over the city.
Capacity: Accommodating 300 with a private event room for 30 seated.
The Space: Daniels Spectrum, the award-winning, LEED Silver-certified cultural community hub in Regent Park.
Millennial-worthy Because: Raised with a keen sense of social responsibility, this generation avidly supports initiatives that give back to the community, reduce waste and improve the environment.
The Delivery: Operated by Artscape, a not-for-profit urban developer, the three storey-building is a modern, vibrant, light-filled gathering space for creativity and the area’s residents. Event rental proceeds help maintain leasing affordability for the artists and groups that call it home. Along with animating the building with their creative installations and performances, the tenants are rich in talent for event-hire. Main event spaces include the Ada Slaight Hall with theatre seating that rolls into the wall, the Artscape Lounge and a spacious outdoor courtyard.
Capacity: Main spaces accommodate 20 to 600. Additional rooms available by directly contacting the tenant.
Millennial-worthy Because: Who said the Internet would kill the movie theatre? Cineplex actually feeds millennials’ notorious multi-screen/device-tasking addictions by offering in-cinema Wifi and the popular pre-show Time Play, an interactive game where audience members use their smartphones to answer trivia and play games, competing for prizes with other moviegoers in real time.
The Delivery: The addition of adult-only VIP Cinemas with comfy reserved seating, sleekly designed licensed lounges and in-theatre food and beverage service puts Cineplex on a whole new playing field for event groups seeking red-carpet exclusivity with big-screen technology. Add in the on-site XSCAPE Entertainment Centre, filled with over 80 interactive games and party suites for ready-made activities and hospitality.
Capacity: Theatre seating capacity varies by location, ranging from 28 to 579 guests (VIP Cinemas, 54 to 133).
The Space: Gone Sailing Adventures with its fleet of four luxury yachts plus inside connections to more if the need calls.
Millennial-worthy Because: Unique, experiential-based pursuits are high on millennials’ to-do list. A chance to skipper a yacht and hoist the sails not only aligns with their quest for novel, active fun but also offers an exclusive high-end social outing.
The Delivery: Whether it’s a three-hour social cruise, learn-the-ropes teambuilding sail or an adrenaline-charged multi-boat racing throw down, there’s no denying the privilege of enjoying the open water from the spacious, luxe settings of this premium Beneteau fleet. New this year is a catamaran and Whirly Girl, a stylish 41-footer outfitted with three double cabins, a salon and a GoPro camera on the bow – millennials will love that! Sailing offers uninterrupted face time for both collaborative and networking occasions. No wind? No problem! That’s when the water guns come out.
Capacity: Set sail in yachts that accommodate groups of two to 16.
The Space: Track & Field, the city’s first lawn games bar located on College Street.
Millennial-worthy Because: This highly social group loves games, competition and team-oriented play. They are also tickled pink by all things retro!
The Delivery: The basement venue is raw yet playful, with two shuffleboard courts, two bocce lanes covered in green Astroturf, and a “games guru” who schools skills and coordinates tournaments. The casual, functional design includes novel details such as a DJ booth fronting a living wall and a comfy leather couch swing for shuffleboard spectators. The drinks menu continues the playfulness with cocktails on tap – perfect for large crowd service – and accoutrements such as pink flamingo stir sticks and fake $100 bill coasters.
Capacity: The 5,000 sq. ft. space offers lots of playing room with a total capacity of 158.
The Space: The Art Gallery of Ontario, the city’s main go-to art museum.
Millennial-worthy Because: This is the new generation of art lovers, enjoying the city’s gallery offerings on a regular basis, and supporting art-centric events such as the Luminato Festival
The Delivery: Whether it’s a festive fête for many or an intimate soirée for a few, dramatic and exquisite art-filled spaces make for gorgeous gatherings at this Frank Gheary-designed art showpiece. Blending old with new, several event spectacular areas include Walker Court with its marble archways and soaring 40-ft. atrium, Baillie Court, the gallery’s private event room, and the graceful curves of Galleria Italia. The AGO’s Massive Party, its annual sold-out fundraiser, has been instrumental in successfully engaging millennials and exposing them to the art world through an evening of unique themes and entertainment.
Capacity: Meeting rooms to large spaces accommodate from 20 to 400.
The Space: Junction City Music Hall, a community-oriented arts and performance space in Dundas West’s Junction neighbourhood.
Millennial-worthy Because: Not unlike other generations, music rules the millennials’ world, jumping at chances to enjoy and support local indie musicians and performers in intimate settings.
The Delivery: Enter through a street level door marked by a light-up marquee and follow dimly lit stairs underground to what’s basically a very edgy basement rec room. Second-hand finds fill the walls with eclectic décor and a bank of vintage pinball and arcade games adds to the unpretentious vibe. There’s a small stage and suspended dance floor. Cocktails take a cue from ’70s classics. A stellar sound system thoughtfully delivers gradient audio levels throughout making conversation easy. Mine the club’s extensive booking list for talent.
Capacity: Standing room only clocks in at 150; 70 seated including cozy wooden booths for groups of six
The Space: Rock ‘n’ Horse Saloon, a country-themed fun house located on Adelaide St. W in the Entertainment District.
Millennial-worthy Because: Did we mention their love of music? In fact, this crowd is known for its customized multi-cultural, multi-genre play lists and are thought to be a driver in the recent resurgence of country’s popularity.
The Delivery: Cowboys and gals unite in this Wild West bar-restaurant, terrifically countrified with over-the-top detailing. A red barn-door façade fronts the entrance and lots of wood, wagon wheels and taxidermy fill the cavernous inside. Lasso a drink at the bar perched on saddle-topped stools. Signature Margaritas serve up in a beach pail holding an upside-down bottle Corona chaser. Line dancing (lessons available), a mechanical bull riding pit, photo booth, country karaoke and live DJ (country rock, of course) all make for an abundance of social interaction.
Capacity: Full venue buy out accommodates groups of 300 including dinner seating for 150.